After spending almost 40 years in captivity at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Cuddles the elephant has died.
As Australia’s only remaining captive African elephant, she was well-known to the public and promoted regularly by the zoo.
After years of being used as a cash cow, she is finally at peace.
Transferred to the zoo from the United Kingdom around the age of 6, Cuddles never got the chance to experience life in Africa. She never had the chance to roam vast distances or be a part of the complex social structure of her family herd. In the wild, she would have been active for 18 hours a day, foraging for fresh vegetation, playing, bathing in rivers, and socialising.
Instead, she was confined to an area much smaller than nature intended and gawked at by humans.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo has stated that it will not exhibit African elephants in the future, and this decision is a welcome one. But PETA urges the zookeepers to show as much compassion to Asian elephants.
Many zoos around the world have closed their elephant exhibits or announced plans to phase them out, citing their own inability to meet these animals’ specific needs. It’s time for Taronga Western Plains Zoo – and all zoos – to do the same.